Saturday, July 24, 2010

Vintage Detroit Iron

It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Baraboo today - no thunderstorms, either! Old-Fashioned Days only comes once a year, so we took advantage of it.

My absolute favorite was this SWEET 1967 Pontiac Bonneville ragtop. (Do want, sorry it ain't a BMW Z3, but oh, well!)

Then there's the 1956 Ford F-100 pickup:

This 1940 Ford Deluxe Coupe was exceptionally choice:

Anybody for a 1951 Dodge Flathead 6 Power Wagon (Military warning stickers still on the dash)?

Another Mopar, in the form of a Dodge Charger:

No classic car show would be complete without a 1967 Camaro SS.

Who wouldn't like a clean Ragtop Oldsmobile 442?

Love the lines on this 1955 Bel-Air 2-Door Hardtop:

And in a concession to Wolfsburg, a nicely-redone 6-volt Swingaxle Bug:

That's definitely a pleasant way to spend a Saturday afternoon, IMHO...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Noodler's "Dark Matter" Review

Unless one's been hiding beneath a rock for the last decade or so, there's been a very popular brand of fountain pen ink called "Noodler's" - named for those crazy folks who think they can reach underwater into a riverbank hole and pull out a catfish vs. losing fingers to snapping turtles. Hell of a sport, that!

I've been playing with fountain pens since grade school, and started out with cartridge-loaded Sheaffers, then graduated to the Parker 51 series, etc. I pretty much forgot about fountain pens over the intervening couple of decades until just recently, when I found myself writing multi-page (last one was 15!) reports longhand and just burning through pen refills like there was no tomorrow.

My old Sheaffers and Parkers had long since disappeared, so on a whim, I ordered a Cross ATX medium-nib pen through AAFES, and a quantity of black cartridges. That was all well and good until I realized that Cross ink tended to feather pretty badly, and those cartridges are a bit of a pain to swap out several times a week. So I ordered a Cross converter, and went shopping for ink. As I ordered the Cross converter, my eye caught a svelte little Chinese number called a "Lanbitou 866", with a hooded nib and very slim lines. What the heck, it was a whopping $4.00, I may as well give it a shot!

I knew that refilling fountain pens via piston converters offered a couple advantages, namely quick refills and a cleaning action as the ink is drawn into the pen from the nib end. While I run the risk of getting ink everywhere when refilling from an ink bottle, it's a calculated risk that I feel is manageable.

Reading all the reviews of Noodler's Ink online, I came to the conclusion that I couldn't go wrong with any of their offerings. About the only prerequisites I had for the ink I needed was that it had to be black (medical/legal requirement), and my own personal desire was that it flow nicely without feathering too much on paper. My Cross ATX did feel "scratchy" when using Cross cartridges, so if I ended up with an ink that had lubrication properties, that would be a bonus, too.

Enter Noodler's "Dark Matter". The story as printed inside the box was that a partial bottle of WWII Los Alamos Government ink showed up at Noodler's, with a request from the owner that Noodler's duplicate it as best they could. This they did, and the subsequent offering shows J. Robert Oppenheimer himself on the label, and "Nuke" on the box end to identify this particular formulation. Having retired myself from an agency closely related to Oppenheimer's project, I just couldn't say no.

I filled both the Cross and Lanbitou, and tried the ink on both copy paper and newspaper. The results are actually pretty darned good. The Cross flowed very easily, and did indeed smooth up the feel of the nib across the paper. It feathered a bit on newspaper, but nowhere near as bad as the Cross cartridges did. The Lanbitou was crisp, and while it didn't gush ink like the Cross, it was still very easy to make nice flowing text. The ink dried relatively quickly, so I would imagine it isn't what Noodler's calls "Bulletproof".

From both pens the color was dark, I guess you could call it pitch black. While I'm sure there are darker formulations from Noodler's, I have no qualms writing through this particular bottle of "Dark Matter" in the performance of my duties and while writing everyday missives.

On the left is the copy/printer paper, on the right is newspaper. For those who like Noodler's offerings, I can very easily understand why!

Muzzle Blasts, Pt. VII

Kudos to the folks who correctly identified the subject of Muzzle Blasts Pt. VI as a Garand, better known as the U.S. Rifle Caliber .30 M1. It's pretty hard to mistake the profile of the M1 Garand, with the gas system sitting so close to the muzzle, and the gas tube right there out in front for all to see.

Here's a better view of same, doing a wonderful job of sending 168gr MatchKings into nice groups at the rifle range:

For the next unknown muzzle, I give you a rarity, although the origin should be visible when viewed in finer detail:

If we didn't take risks...

None of us would ever experience the pleasures of things like dandelion wine.

The dogs and I sat in the grass some time ago, clipping dandelions and filling ice cream buckets with the flowers that others would rather douse with a healthy dose of herbicide. Several quarts later, my fingers were stained bright yellow - the same color as the interior of my big polyurethane primary fermenter after just one week. The results, however, are simply outstanding!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

The latest batch is white wine!

I just bottled 3 gallons of what I call "Wisconsin White", which was created during the tail end of last winter using Welch's White Grape Juice frozen concentrate and a Premier Cuvee' yeast. There was slightly more than 3 gallons' worth, so I ended up sampling several glasses of the "extra" after bottling was completed. Pretty darned tasty, I must say! Maybe my technique over the last 6 months or so is hitting its stride...

Saturday, July 03, 2010

My little girl turns 7 next year!

Ms. Quinn is still a stunning dog, no questions about it. Here she is, 60lbs of Chow/Spitz chasing me down at full-tilt-boogie as I try to capture her in the camera's shutter:

23" monitors, they are so nice...

I upgraded a little while ago from a 19" to a 23" monitor, a Hannspree HF237 HDTV version as sold by for a whopping $149.95 (refurbished w/warranty). I don't know how I languished so long with a 19" monitor, and a 17" monitor nowadays would drive me absolutely bonkers. 1920 x 1080 resolution will definitely light up one's office at night!